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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Happy Veterans Day

A special greeting today to all my readers who have served in our armed forces. You don't have to get past the front page of the newspaper these days to see that the wolf is always at the door. Anyone who has spent time in uniform to protect and defend this country deserves our respect and gratitude, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with the wisdom or justice of any military actions in which they participated.

I must confess, when I was a young man I was too frightened of Vietnam, and too interested in my education, to sign up. There was still a draft when I turned 18, and Tricky Dick Nixon had eliminated college deferments, but I got a decent number in the draft lottery and managed to stay out of the service.

My dad was a vet, though, and an active member of the American Legion post (a veterans' club) across the alley in back of our house. I am proud to have the gavel from his year as commander of the post up on my bookcase, just below the flag they draped on his coffin. When World War II opened up, he decided to forgo the last several months of high school to join the Navy and ship out to the South Pacific. For the stay-at-home kind of guy that he proved to be once he returned, that took a lot of guts.

I remember going to services with the vets and their sons on Veterans Day. They'd attend Mass at the Catholic Church, then head over to the post for a "communion breakfast," followed by a ceremony at the boat club down on the Passaic River. They'd throw a wreath into the wretchedly polluted water, followed by a multiple-gun salute. It was pretty impressive to a youngster like myself, and as close as I have ever gotten to the discharge of a real firearm. You could tell that these guys had not been kidding around a decade and a half earlier when they went abroad to fight for freedom.

Happily, two of my favorite vets are bloggers. Cousin James has some great reflections on the day, and John the Schmuck points out some of the wonderful benefits in life he enjoys thanks to his tours of duty in Thailand.

My best to them and to all the guys and gals who served.

Comments (1)

Thanks, Jack. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about your dad today. I miss him.

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